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Posted: 6/18/2003 5:49:12 AM EDT
Gun maker wants Grunow to pay fees [url]http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/auto/epaper/editions/tuesday/local_news_e3ee4826949212a90012.html[/url] By Bill Douthat, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Tuesday, June 17, 2003 WEST PALM BEACH -- A gun distributor wants the widow of slain school teacher Barry Grunow to pay its defense costs, including attorney's fees, from last year's five-week trial. The Valor Corp. say it's entitled to recover its legal costs because Pam Grunow lost her lawsuit accusing the Broward County company of being responsible for her husband's death. Valor sold the.25-caliber handgun that Lake Worth Middle School student Nathaniel Brazill used to kill Grunow on the last day of school in 2000. A jury found Valor 5 percent responsible for the teacher's death and awarded Pam Grunow and her two children $1.2 million, but the verdict was reversed by Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga, who presided over the trial. An attorney for Pam Grunow called Valor's move a "heavy-handed" attempt to pressure Grunow to drop her appeal of Labarga's ruling. "What a horrible thing for an industry to do to a widow and her children," said Rebecca Larson, who along with Bob Montgomery represents Grunow. But Valor attorney Tom Warner said the company has spent a lot of money on the lawsuit and wants an end to the costly litigation. "I think she's a courageous woman and it's terrible what happened to her husband," said Warner, a former state legislator and state solicitor general who is handling the appeal for Valor. "I don't think we are pressuring her into doing anything," Warner said. "It's legitimate for the defense in this case, which is out of a lot of money, to say, 'When is this going to end?' " Warner confirmed that Valor has offered not to seek the recovery if Grunow's appeal is withdrawn. Valor says it's entitled to recovery of attorney's fees because Pam Grunow turned down an offer of $200,000 in March 2002 to settle her lawsuit without going to trial. The settlement offer was rejected because it didn't even cover the expenses to that point in preparing for the lawsuit, Larson said. During the trial in October, Montgomery told the jury he was seeking a jury verdict of $75 million. The lawsuit claimed the Saturday night special handgun sold by Valor was inherently defective and should be sold only with safety locks. Brazill, who was 13 when he shot Grunow outside a classroom, had stolen the gun from the home of a family friend. Brazill was convicted of second-degree murder in 2001 and sentenced to 28 years in prison. A hearing to decide whether Valor is entitled to recover attorney's fees is scheduled for July 25. Valor filed a separate request to the court to recover other expenses. Neither motion gives estimates of those costs.
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